How to Stay Grounded After Major Life Events
With so much turmoil happening in the world, life can seem hectic and the future uncertain. From Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, to the wildfires currently plaguing the western U.S., many Americans are dealing with devastating destruction. Whether you're impacted by a natural disaster or dealing with personal challenges – like moving to a new city or breaking up with a significant other – putting your life back together after a significant change can be overwhelming.
Slowing down and focusing on your mental health is an important part of living a healthy life. Regardless of what you're going through, finding the right tools and tips can make a huge difference. If you're looking for a place to start, we've put together four ways to stay grounded after a major life event:
- Allow time for self-reflection
Self-reflection is an effective way to uncover and express your feelings, as well as identify strategic solutions to deal with future issues. It can take on many forms – including meditation and journaling – but the benefits are the same. Introspection has been proven to decrease stress, prevent unnecessary worrying and help pinpoint what truly makes you happy. Next time you're feeling overwhelmed, try grabbing a pen and a piece of paper and just start writing.
According to Maud Purcell, LCSW, CEAP, "the act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit and feel. In sum, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you."
- Focus on the present
Getting too wrapped up in the past or the future can lead to unnecessary stress or anxiety. By living in the moment, you can enjoy what's happening in your life now – instead of being bogged down with worry about what could happen or guilt about things that have already happened.
Take time to slow down and focus on things you'd normally rush through. Stephen Schueller, Ph.D, found that people who savored something as small as eating a meal or drinking a cup of tea experienced more positive emotions and less depressed feelings.
- Learn to think like an optimist
It's easy to get caught up in negative thoughts when going through an unexpected life event. But did you know that there are simple tricks you can use to become an optimist? The more you're exposed to positivity, the more likely it is to rub off on you. Whether it's hanging out with positive people, listening to an upbeat song or reading motivational quotes, happiness is contagious.
You can also change the tone of your thoughts. Instead of beating yourself up over things you can't change, try telling yourself daily affirmations and point out the positives. It may feel weird at first but soon it'll come naturally, and you'll be on your way to becoming a happier person.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help
After a major change or traumatic event, it's natural to bottle your emotions up and try to cope on your own. However, this can be a detrimental mistake. Asking for help will take the burden off your shoulders and allow you to feel more connected to your loved ones, community or others. It can also make you more empathetic and ready to help when someone else is in need.
Don't have anyone to talk to? Just remember that you're not alone. Try finding a support group of people who have experienced a similar life event, or visiting a therapist. It may seem scary at first to open up to someone you don't know, but an outside perspective can often help guide you back.
Although moving forward following a major life event takes time, these simple tips can help change your perspective and start you on the path to living a happy, healthy life.